Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Trip Across America: The World's Only Corn Palace!

Jerry (that's Nancy's father) and I had our sights set on the Mitchell Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota from the minute we climbed into our Chrysler 300 for Road Trip 2009. I'm guessing that Jerry hadn't ever thought much about The World's Only Corn Palace until I started talking about it, but he was a good sport and got on board with the fact that this one destination was going to shape the route of our whole trip. I'm here to tell you: we were not disappointed.

The World's Only Corn Palace is where you would expect to find it--Main Street--in Mitchell. We were a bit disappointed that there wasn't a World's Only Corn Palace Cafe as we had worked up quite an appetite and were hoping for the sort of South Dakota cafe I remembered from the old days. Not to be found.

Now what is it about the United States? Things always seem to have to be billed as The World's Largest or The World's Only. In the case of the World's Only Corn Palace, I suspect a number of people, not totally convinced that the world needs even one corn palace, think that the designation of The World's Only Corn Palace should be endorsed by the United Nations and any nation, including ours, that tried to create another would be the subject of sanctions and a blue-helmeted enforcement army.

Anyway, this World's Only Corn Palace thing has been going on a while. Here's a photo of a photo of the first edition (1892, I believe) of the World's Only Corn Palace. The World's Only Corn Palace featured a nice little museum about, of course, TWOCP, a souvenir shop, and a penny smashing machine. Penny smashing machines seem to have become very popular again. Note to Rouge, yes there will be a TWOCP smashed penny in your future...

The outside of TWOCP is decorated with murals of Americana made out of, you guessed it, corn. Several varieties provide a small selection of colors, along with a little help from milo and corn husks.

The murals are redone every year and luck of luck, the morning we arrived, September 2, 2009, was the day the crew started to strip the old murals off in preparation for installing the new ones. A committee decides on the theme and a local artist designs the murals.

Featured to the left are actual pieces of TWOCP that I picked up off the street where they were working. We sure would have been disappointed if we'd arrived to a naked TWOCP. I don't know what the schedule is but the big Polka Fest is coming up September 18-22 so I can't imagine it would be completely stripped for that.

I think I'll suggest that they install a web-cam to watch the progress.

Of course, TWOCP is more than just a pretty face on the street. What started as an exhibition of the bounty produced by local farmers is now a full-fledged event locale featuring arena-style seating, a basketball court, a performance stage, and, when filled with a person, Cornelius, TWOCP mascot.

Go see TWOCP--it's worth the trip to Mitchell, South Dakota!


Mark Schilling said...

Great story about the Corn Palace. You told the story perfectly.

Mark Schilling
Corn Palace Director

Ronna said...

I want to go to the Corn Palace! Sounds amazing. And am looking forward to that flat penny for my collection. Tell Nancy my collector's book is almost FULL so next time we get together, I might just be working on book TWO!!

Elisabeth said...

I could not beleive that the actual building was covered in corn. I went to their web site to see more. A giant corn mosaic...who knew?, of course.
Now... where is the giant corn?